How to read your dog’s body language

At PetSafe® we are committed to healthy pets and happy owners, and through educating owners about the common behavioural traits in their pets we hope we can build understanding and a more trusting and respectful relationship between you and your four-legged loves.

We will look at what you should be watching out for from your dog for signs of different emotions by working from head to tail…



If your canine is displaying intense eyes – don’t be alarmed! It is their way of showing they are interested in something. Half moon eyes are a sign of a dog which wants to be left alone, if you see this; it’s time to move away. Wide eyes and dilated pupils probably means your dog is ready to fight or run away.




A closed mouth on a dog is a sign that it is alert, whereas if it is pulled back showing some teeth or gum is a sign of fear which could lead to aggression. In a fearful mood, your dog will lick at a dominant dog or in the air. Licking lips and swallowing can be a sign of stress as can persistent yawning. When happy and relaxed, a dog’s mouth will hang open in a relaxed manner with the tongue out.




A relaxed dog will have ears which are up, but not forward. When the ears are facing forward that means they are searching for a noise and are very alert. A slight tilt downward in your dog’s ears is a sign they are becoming aggressive and dominant, and if your dog is displaying flattened ears, they are either feeling fearful or stressed.




A happy dog will have a loose stance, with its weight flat on its feet. If a dog has a stiff legged stance leaning forward it is feeling dominant and aggressive, whereas if the body is lowered they are feeling threatened or submissive. Submission can quickly turn to aggression if the dogs’ submissive posture is not recognised and respected.




If a dog has its tail down it is usually a bad sign, however it’s important to gauge how tightly coiled its tail is into the body. A relaxed down tail can be seen on a relaxed dog, but a fearful or stressed dog will tuck its tail under the body between the back legs. When a pup is playful watch out for the broad wagging of the tail, and a more enthusiastic wag when they’re excited.

Keeping an eye out for these behavioural traits can help you learn more about your dog and what it is trying to tell you in its movements, giving you the chance for a happier and more understanding relationship with your canine.

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